Step 1 in "Get yourself to Holland" series: Exploring the options

Having studied in New Zealand and the Netherlands, I know that the application process to study abroad can be a nightmare…. But STAY CALM …. if I can do it, you can do it too. This year I will make a blog series “Get yourself to Holland” that guides you through the different stages of “that mess”. So let’s get started.

Posted by at Sep 21, 2016 06:55 AM

The application deadlines of many universities in the Netherlands for international students can be as early as December; hence, you should start spending a few hours every week from now working on your “Orange dream”. Step 1 in your journey to get to Holland is EXPLORING THE OPTIONS (types of higher education institutes, universities, study programs, scholarship, etc). This step may be time-consuming and frustrating at times, but (trust me with this) you will regret if you don’t give it enough time. 

daydreaming about what you want to do in life
When choosing a career, go with passion and interest and nothing else

 1)      Knowing what you want to do in life (I know … it sounds cliché). This will help you with choosing the program you are most likely to stay interested in and excel in in the long run. You can do so by doing the following things:

  1. Look at your grade
  2. Know what brings you joy to study or explore
  3. Think about your hobbies
  4. Consult your parents, teachers and friends

study in holland website
Study in Holland website really provides almost all the information you need to start your Get yourself to Holland journey

2)      Searching for the right school with your preferred programs. Although all universities in the Netherlands have high standards, different schools have their own strengths. For instance, TU Delft is known for various engineer and technical programs. Or Wageningen University is a research institute with a strong point in agriculture and environment.  Besides, there are different types of higher education institutes (Research, Applied Science, University College, etc) with different purposes and styles of teaching. 

  • Understand the differences between different higher education institutes in Holland
  • Explore bachelor programs at University Colleges. They are considered as "the high class" or "honour" programs with considerably higher tuition fees and heavier study programs than conventional undergraduate programs. 
  • Check out this database of all English programs and see if you can find the programs you are interested in.
  • Learn about the cities where your favorite universities are. As important as your study in Holland is, enjoying and experiencing your new life outside of school is also part of the game.  
  • Ask away. There is no better way to know if the school and/or the program is right for you than to ask the people who are living the same dream with you. Look up reviews about the school and programs online.
  • If the rank of a university is important to you, then view this site.
  • Aslo don't forget to check for the application deadline and requirements. In most cases, you don't need to submit your high school certificate or bachelor diploma if you are in your final year. Those documents and (in some cases) IELTS/other standardized test score can be submitted later after you have been admitted to the program (but always double check with the admission officials). Nonetheless, it is preferable that you should register for the earliest testing date and have all these scores ready when submitting your application. High scores in those tests will really help make your application package stand out (especially for scholarship application)  


Study in Holland can be quite expensive, especially for non-EU students
Study in Holland can be quite expensive, especially for non-EU students

3)      Figuring out a way to finance your study and living. Students spend between €800 and €1,100 a month for living expenses, and approximately €6,000-€15,000 for a bachelor program and €8,000-€20,000 for a master program. Unless your parents are willing to financially support you, you should consider applying for a scholarship.

  • Check out the long list of available scholarships offered to international students. Don't forget to always refer back to the information posted on the official websites of the universities that offer the scholarships you want. 
  • Look up scholarships offered by University Colleges for bachelor programs. The scholarship can go up to 15000eu per year for 3 years for Amsterdam Scholarship Fund for students who go to Amsterdam University College. These scholarships are clearly listed in the universities' websites. 
  • Carefully check and note down the criteria, the deadline and application package requirement. More than often, the deadline for scholarship application is a lot earlier than the study application deadline.
  • Don’t doubt your potentials. You may lose that chance of making your “Orange dream” come true, if you think you are not good enough to earn a scholarship and don’t give it a go. It all starts with the right mindset. 
  • Don't think that you can solely rely on a part time job to support your living here. It is super douper hard for international students to get a part-time job here due to some law regulations. Even when you succeed in finding one, you can only work 10 hours a week. 

Though you have to make choices, you shouldn't limit yourself to just one scholarship, one study program or one university. Keep your chances high by having at least 3 options; however, your application package (specifically the CV and motivation letter) should be tailored to each one of them as different study programs and especially scholarships looks for different qualities in applicants. 

That's it for now. I hope this is helpful for you. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask me in the comment section below.

PS: Next blog in the series "Get yourself to Holland" will be about packing the application package. So don't wander off too far. 

PS-2: a big thanks to Sonia Jain for being my model and photographer. 

PS-3: and don't forget to share this blog on your social media sites with the hashtag #getyourselftoHolland. You never know, you may end up sitting next to one of your friends on the flight to Holland next summer #sharingiscaring. Good luck

Posted by at Sep 21, 2016 06:55 AM